Like many BTBers reading this post I was excited to hear the news late Tuesday night that Dallas had signed former New York Jets guard Brandon Moore to a one-year deal. I expected the 33-year-old Moore to give us quality play from the right guard spot allowing Mackenzy Bernadeau and David Arkin to stick around as quality backups while the team went for a guard in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL draft. When I woke up on Wednesday and read that Moore had opted for retirement over reuniting with his old line coach Bill Callahan it felt like a particularly nasty hangover.
All is not lost however. 2011 4th rounder David Arkin has already shed the 'bust' label, and assuming he can stay healthy, he at least gives Dallas a quality swing man at the guard and center spot to succeed Ryan Cook. And the Mothership seems to think Mackenzy Bernadeau can play very well in the revamped zone blocking scheme under line coach Frank Pollack. The fact that Bernie has not been able to stay healthy through his two offseasons in Dallas however, has given many of us fans (and members of the news media) pause. And while logically offensive tackle is probably the shallower pool when it comes to depth on this line (do you really want Edawn Coughman playing any snaps this year should we have an injury at either spot?), offensive guard worries us more because we've all watched Bernie struggle to regain his form last season, hampered by injuries around him and having to play out of position at center.
Which brings us to the question of...who is out there? And is our final offensive lineman currently on another roster? If so, who would you like to see brought in if he gets cut, or barring a cut down because the guy has some game, a late round pick trade like the Boys did for Cook last August? (Note all measurables except for Foketi's taken from OurLads.com)
1. Harland Gunn - 6"2 315 G/C (2nd Year) Atlanta - Remember this guy? Gunn might've made the team last year if it wasn't for so many other players in our interior line missing time with injuries. At any rate, Gunn was signed by the New Orleans practice squad off our waivers and then was poached by the Atlanta Falcons when their veteran center missed four games in 2012. I'm putting him at the top of the list because, given the UDFAs Atlanta brought in this season, he might be on the street looking for work come September and already has familiarity with Callahan's system. Did I mention he also opened a lot of holes for Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller as a teammate of Miller's at Hurricane U?
1a. Ray Dominguez - 6"4 330 (3rd Year) Ok this isn't really an external solution but I had to mention Dominguez here as he's played with power and a mean streak so far in camp. Certainly the only way big Ray sticks on this 53 is if another interior OL gets hurt or Livings and Cook both get cut. But I'm including him here because he played for a team -- the Green Bay Packers -- not known for their power running last season.
2. Darrion Weems - 6"5 320 (2nd Year) MOVE TO OG from RT Another in-house solution I've been proposing for a while, as it seems clear that Weems can run block when given the opportunity and is familiar with our system. But he also gets beat around the edge quite a bit. The Cowboys obviously saw something in Weems' tape with the Patriots from last preseason and one wonders if his size and power could translate inside better than his feet work outside (quick, somebody tweet this as a question to @BryanBroaddus!).
Of course, if Darrion currently struggles on the edge there's no guarantee he can make a smooth transition inside. But give him credit for showing some success in the HOF game against Miami working with the linemen we already have. This seems like a way to salvage Weems' career in Dallas whether on the 53 or (more likely) making the RT --> OG transition after being re-signed to the practice squad (only a truly desperate team at this point seems likely to poach Weems for a 53 spot at tackle).
3. Manase Foketi - 6"5 318 OG/RT (Rookie) Denver - A big mauler who played college ball in the Cowboys' back yard at West Texas A&M after leaving Kansas State. The Cowboys scouting department is sure to have some tape on this guy. The rookie faces a stacked depth chart and two quality starters ahead of him in Denver, so it's quite possible he'll be looking for work after final cuts and be happy to come back to Tejas. Foketi could be a college tackle practice squad candidate to be developed like Leary was last season. Though Foketi's measurables may not be quite as good as Leary's, he does have long enough arms to get a good punch at the pro level.
4. Wayne Tribue - 6"3 325 OG (2nd year) San Francisco - A guard caught in the numbers game out in San Francisco who's unlikely to beat out ex-Michigan rookie Patrick Omameh for a spot on the Niners 53. Tribue was on the Broncos and Saints practice squads last year so he should've been exposed to both Callahan type zone blocking and pass protection. Is he any good? Well he's in camp with the Niners now so we'll see.
5. Rishaw Johnson 6"3 313 OG (2nd year) Seattle - A guard who spent last season on Seattle's practice squad and almost certainly received plenty of run blocking experience that Callahan would value. No idea how well he can do in pass protection though or whether he'll be squeezed out in the numbers game at final cuts.
You'll notice none of these guys are older, more experienced veterans who might come at a hefty price tag. And none of them with the possible exception of Gunn are guard/center tweeners, all of them are nearly as big as Bernadeau. I also went for players who were in camps where the power running game is emphasized to narrow down the potentially limitless field (since prior to his emergency signing I'd never heard of TCU's Jeff Olson, who's a
nother practice squad candidate if he can show up this preseason since been cut by the team.
What do you think BTBers?